Mental Models Weekly — Issue #15 — The Boiling Frog 🐸

Some might think this week’s model sounds a bit gruesome! We are covering a cool fable called The Boiling Frog. It’s a powerful catalyst for looking at situations in different ways… 🧠


What is The Boiling Frog?

The boiling frog is a fable which tells the story of a frog who is placed in a pot of boiling water. The frog immediately feels the discomfort and recognizes the danger and jumps straight out. Later, the frog is placed in a pot of lukewarm water, and the water is brought to the boil slowly. This time, the frog doesn’t notice the slow increase in temperature, and even though is free to jump out, the poor frog stays put — and eventually is boiled alive!

Why is it interesting?

This fable serves as a great metaphor for the tendency we have to much more easily notice quick drastic changes compared to slow incremental changes. Sometimes we are that fabled boiling frog!

Maybe it’s related to an industry or business we’re in that has been increasing less profitable or promising; or maybe it’s a relationship of some sort that has been getting slowly worse over time; or maybe’s it a job that was once OK, but conditions have deteriorated to such a degree that the offer would never be accepted today in it’s current state.

Although it’s disputed whether the frog behaviors described are scientifically accurate, it’s still a magnificent metaphor to help assess if you might be in a boiling pot!

Photo: David Clode

Want to go deeper?

🔖 Sometimes you just need to temporarily ‘get out of the pot’ and take a hedonic reset!

🎥 Politicians love to overuse this metaphor, and Stephen Colbert shows them up in this hilarious clip.

🔖The semi-literal interpretation of this fable — climate change.

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